Friday, June 26, 2009

The HWY 23 Job Loss Corridor - Stillwater & Fond du Lac

Just some background information on Mercury Marine.

Mercury Marine's Stillwater plant is responsible for production of its IO engines (Mercruiser) and the Fond du Lac plant is geared towards outboard engines and its parts and accessories business.

In addition, Mercury Marine is a division on the Brunswick Corporation headquartered in Lake Forest IL. Here is the Wiki entry on Mercury Marine.

Two interesting stories. The founder (Carl Kiekhaefer) of Mercury Marine is legend in his drive and his work ethic (or worhaholism if you will) it is reported he fired engineers unwilling to entertain discussions at odd hours (e.g. in the middle of the night) and a story where a guy was sitting around a loading dock doing nothing. The founder stormed up to him and asked his salary and the founder pulled out a wad of bills and gave the loafer two weeks of salary and told him to get off the premises. Turns out the loafer was a delivery guy from a vendor waiting around for his delivery to be offloaded.

One story that is very interesting is how Mercury Marine engines came to be black. They used to be green and the larger engines were a straight six design and the story notes the large size of the engine gave rise to many nicknames a favorable one being "tower of power". One engineer was talking to his mother about the problem and their need to downsize the engines without a sacrifice in performance. The engineer's mother then noted when a woman wants to appear smaller she wears black. The engineer took this thought back to the shop and they performed experiments that showed the perceived size of the engine was about 20% less in black than green.